The founders of Liberation Yoga were probably flattered when their studio was named one of LA Weekly's best yoga studios in 2013. But it wasn't the highest honor they'd ever received—in 2007, Travel+Leisure crowned Liberation Yoga one of the best studios in the entire world.
Those are just two of the numerous awards the studio has accumulated since it opened in the early 2000s, right when the '90s fitness craze of teasing hair until your arms gave out began to decline. Perhaps the praise is due to the fact that the majority of its yoga instructors boast more than a decade of experience. Or maybe it's because they focus solely on yoga while still offering a wide variety of classes types. That class range includes from gentle styles of yoga, which relieve stress, to flow classes, which challenge the body with rigorous, Vinyasa-style movements, to classes specifically designed for families and toddlers.
Or maybe it's the classroom itself—a bright, mystical place where mismatched dark and light hardwood slats cover the floors, natural light pours through the windows, and a sky-blue ceiling slants toward the outer wall. Touches such as tree-like wooden poles, greenery and flowers, and brown vines complete the fairytale look, making the studio a magic place in which to move and obtain inner peace.
Melanie Archer-Dieveney took to Pilates instantly. As a new mother, she turned to the core-strengthening art to reshape her body, and in the process, she began to reshape her life. She was amazed not only by the transformation in how her body looked, but how it felt—she noticed an increase in her energy and focus levels, a very welcome change to the single mom of a 2-year-old. After getting her certification, she decided to create a studio where like-minded exercisers could bring their children to class. Archer Pilates & Wellness originally opened as a small labor of love in her garage. But today, alongside a team of licensed and certified instructors, she leads her classes in a serene studio with gleaming wood floors and numerous props, including Pilates reformer machines, medicine balls, and four brass poles for pole-dancing classes. She has developed a hands-on, customized roster of Pilates classes, ensuring that each guest performs workouts specifically tailored to their goals, whether they want to lose inches or build core muscles strong enough to deflect a sprinting child less than 60 pounds. As adults lengthen and strengthen their muscles, the instructors also lead kids through Pilates and yoga classes, taking a more active and engaging approach to traditional childcare.
Like a finely tuned motorcycle, the human body relies on balance and cooperation between its many parts to keep people moving smoothly. With that in mind, the experienced trainers at BodyWellness help students maintain their own bodily mechanics with small group Pilates classes. In addition to the seasoned staff, the studio offers a newly revamped class schedule and a host of brand new Pilates equipment.
In private sessions and group classes, the instructors lead students through workouts designed to increase energy, flexibility, and core strength. They also offer Pilates teacher-training courses, which allow students to stretch, strengthen, and stimulate their bodies and minds while simultaneously working toward a new career.
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Leigh Ann grew up as an actor who was also an athlete: when she was offstage, the SoCal native dove off springboards, jumped hurdles, and fought on the kickboxing mat. Her knack for blending art with athleticism led her to found BeSpun at the age of 25. Leigh Ann competes and receives top honors at national and regional pole-dance competitions, and she has produced and starred in a series of instructional DVDs.
At BeSpun, Leigh Ann and her fellow instructors—also pole-dance champions—teach an extensive array of classes that include single-session and multiweek workshops. Classes’ subject matter ranges from beginners' lessons to master workshops led by special guests. There’s also open-studio time, as well as classes that focus on specialties such as spinning, stretching, and whittling your own pole from a chrome tree trunk. Instructors focus on leading thorough sessions that use time efficiently, and they’re committed to blending fitness with dance training. A lighthearted FAQ page answers potential questions while giving a taste of the studio’s fun-loving atmosphere.
Few professionals can credit Flashdance with rerouting the course of their career. In fact, Richard Giorla could be the only one. The unconventional dance moves he saw in the film motivated the former Pennsylvania Ballet Company member to hit the streets of his new home, Manhattan, and learn breakdancing from dancers at the heart of the movement, trading his own dance expertise as payment. Richard’s career was in full swing when, struck with an injury, he started teaching a ballet-barre class. Though he appreciated its stretching and toning components, Richard craved a more aerobic workout. So he created his own solution—Cardio Barre.
The unique workout consists of high-energy, zero-impact movements that sculpt the long, slender body of a dancer without a student ever having to step foot in a traditional dance studio. As they balance on the ballet barre, or whichever classmate is closest, pupils direct all their focus to one muscle group at a time, while the entire body stays in motion for maximum fat burning. His approach’s pudge-busting abilities have made the fitness method a favorite of many health magazines and celebrities.
An AT&T ad executive hangs up the phone, grabs his jacket, and heads toward the subway to Hell's Kitchen. It's the late '80s, and at the New York comedy institution The Improv, a slew of up-and-coming talent, including Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, are testing jokes and honing timing. In the next few years, they'll perform on television for millions. But for now, they're changing the life of one ad executive.
The founder of LA Stand-Ups, Joe Falzarano, quit his promising advertising career because he "hated being a suit" and preferred to nurture promising young comedians. With accomplishments that include producing the CableACE Award–winning Caroline's Comedy Hour for A&E, Falzarano helped launch the performing and writing careers of entertainers including Jon Stewart and Louis C.K. Today, Falzarano imparts his more than 20 years of industry experience to aspiring joke-tellers, teaching them tactics for perfecting a punch line, calming nerves, and subduing hecklers with a marshmallow gun. Falzarano maintains a supportive atmosphere where students learn how to use who they are to connect with an audience, and even lets students try out material at the Hollywood Improv.